The President of the United States of America is widely regarded as the most powerful man on earth, but Vladimir Putin would certainly have one or two things to say about this claim. For four years in a row, Forbes has always described the Russian leader as the most powerful man in the world. You may not have to look too far to find out why.
Vladimir was born on 7 October 1952 in Leningrad (now St Petersburg), Russia. His mother, Maria, was a factory worker, while his father was a wounded World War II veteran who worked as a laborer. Putin’s two older brothers Albert and Viktor died as children. As an adolescent, Putin was not particularly interested in academics; he was more interested in physical activities and martial arts.
At the age of 12, he began to be actively engaged in boxing, judo, karate, and sambo (a Soviet martial art). Through his involvement in combat, Vladimir became interested in espionage and espionage activities and soon realized that he had to continue his education to have a chance of being admitted to the KGB. He enrolled in law school at St. Petersburg State University in 1970 and graduated in 1975, after which he joined the KGB. Putin served for 15 years as a foreign intelligence officer for the KGB, and in 1985 he was transferred to Dresden in the then German Democratic Republic (GDR) and spent five years undercover. During his time in active espionage service, he was praised as an expert in reading and manipulating people and was regarded as someone who was not impressed by violence.
When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, Putin’s undercover days were over, he resigned in the rank of lieutenant colonel and returned to St. Petersburg State University, where he worked closely with his former professor and soon-to-be mayor of St. Petersburg, Anatoly Sobchak. His first political appointment was as an advisor to Mayor Sobchak on international affairs. On 28 June 1991, Putin was appointed head of the Committee for External Relations of the St. Petersburg Mayor’s Office.
After the defeat of Sobchak in 1996, Putin went to Moscow, where he was appointed Deputy Head of the Department for Administration of Presidential Property. Over four years, he rose rapidly and held delicate posts, including that of Deputy Chief of Staff to the President, Director of the Federal Security Service (FSB) and First Deputy Prime Minister to President Boris Yeltsin.
In August 1999, President Boris Yeltsin dismissed his Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin along with his entire cabinet and appointed Putin as Prime Minister. In December of the same year, an ailing Yeltsin resigned as president and appointed Putin as acting president until official elections were held (early 2000). In 2004, Putin was re-elected as president.
Due to constitutional provisions prohibiting three consecutive terms as president, Putin was not able to run for president in 2008. He did, however, secure the succession of his protégé, Dmitry Medvedev, as president in March 2008. Medvedev immediately appointed Putin as a Russian prime minister and granted him political power until the next elections. On 4 March 2012, Vladimir Putin was re-elected in his third term as president.
Vladimir Putin’s Wife
Vladimir Putin married Lyudmila Zhkrebneva in 1983 after she was introduced to him by his best friend Sergei Pavlovich Roldugin. After 31 years together, Lyudmila Putina and her husband publicly announced on 6 June 2013 that they would divorce, and the relationship was ended by mutual consent. Lyudmila had the reason that there was no room for family relations in the Russian leader’s work schedule, he hardly took time for anything other than his official duties.
Putin has two daughters from his marriage to Liudmila. Maria, born in 1985, and Katerina, born 1986. Putin has always kept his family life secret, especially the identity of his children. Supposedly, they don’t even bear the famous family name.
Katerina, who bears the family name Tikhonova (derived from her grandmother’s name, Ekaterina Tikhonovna Shrebneva), is married to Kirill Shamalov, the son of Nikolai Shamalov, a long-time friend of the President. Shamalov senior is a shareholder of Bank Rossiya.
Vladimir Putin’s older daughter Maria studied biology at St. Petersburg University and medicine at Moscow State University. According to reports, she is married to a Dutch businessman and now bears the family name Fasten.
Vladimir Putin’s Girlfriend
There are rumors that the Russian leader is in a romantic relationship with one of the country’s most decorated sportswomen, Alina Kabaeva. She has won 2 Olympic medals, 14 world championship medals, and 25 European championship medals.
Alina, who also leads a private life, gave birth to a daughter in Switzerland; the paternity of the child was not disclosed. It was claimed that the child could be of Putin. Should this be the case, this would be a classic move by Putin to keep the matter out of public discourse.
For a man whose personality and leadership style depends on toughness and strength, Putin is quite small. He is 5 ft 7 inches tall.
Lesser Known Facts About Vladimir Putin
- At the age of 18, Putin was already a black belt holder in Judo
- Putin loves Dogs. He once attended a diplomatic meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the company of his scary looking black Labrador knowing the German leader is terrified of dogs
- His granddad Spiridon Ivanovich Putin was a cook. He cooked for Former Soviet leaders Stalin and Lenin
- He is an opponent of same-sex marriage, Putin likens it to Satan-worship